Monday, March 27, 2006

Why I'm NOT a Democrat

If the random person decides to read this blog, and looks at my profile, s/he will see that I list politics as one of my interests. One also may deduct (rightly) that I am a feminist, but one could search up and down this site and see something missing: republican or democrat.

I am not a republican. This shocks no one, it is hard (in fact, I think impossible) to be a committed feminist and a republican. About the only thing I agree with in conservative philosophies is a need to balance the budget (my solution, however, is raise taxes, not cut spending), guns should be available to the populace (but, again, I don't agree with full autos being on the market to the average gun owner), and the death penality (after full trials, because it is more humane than life imprisonment).

What shocks most people is that I am also not a democrat.

Democrats have proven, time and time again, they're williness to throw out women's rights, minority rights, envirnmental concerns, anything, if politically expedient. The fact that one of my own senators voted FOR Alito (and Robert's) nomination, and is supposedly a democrat, irritated me to no end and proved that they don't care about women's issues.

We have a fairly active College Democrats group at UND. This is not surprising, North Dakota has traditionally been economically liberal (*read* likes social security and farm subsidies) and socially conservative (*read* wants everyone to fall into the gender, race, Christian and hetero behavior norms). I was once asked why I didn't join, since it was obvious that I feel impassioned about politics (I suffer from the "not being able to shut up in class" problem). My answer? "I am a feminist, not a democrat".

I asked this self-same College Democrat a few weeks back what his feelings on the South Dakota abortion was. "Watch how people will be voting democrat now that the republicans don't have their favorite bogey-man to beat". (Paraphrasing because I can't remember exactly what was said, but he did say "bogey-man").

And that's all it is for democrats. Not the fact that women in South Dakota will no longer be able to get their health needs met, but that somehow democrats will get back in power.

To democrats: people aren't going to vote for you unless you show yourself to be something other than Republican-lite.

So, until the democrats show themselves capable of being more than just a useless group of back-patters, I'm voting Green.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Reproductive Rights

Not that this is news to anyone, but South Dakota has banned abortion. No exemptions for incest or rape, no D&X done in the state, nothing: they have unequivocally said that a clump of cells is more valuable than a woman. They have institutionalized lack of respect for pregnancy, and the major contribution women do for the creation of life.

But, this is just explicitly doing what forced-birthers have being doing for years.

Here in North Dakota, it is functionally impossible to get an abortion. We don't have a ban like South Dakota, but here are the laws:

-The parents of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.

-A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.

-Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

-Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment.

-Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.

There is ONE clinic in the entire state of North Dakota that provides for elective abortion, and that's in Fargo. If you catch it right away, the abortion costs $525 dollars, plus travel expenses.

Grand Forks, Bismarck, Dickinson, and Minot: none of them have an abortion provider. 98% of the counties in North Dakota don't have an abortion clinic. There is not a single, solitary Planned Parenthood in the entire state: the last one got picketed out of existence some time ago.

And the strongest activism in the state? It is to pass a ban on abortion in North Dakota, to follow South Dakota's example, and make sure those uppity sluts get what's coming to them. Where I'm at in Grand Forks, there is NO pro-choice organization on campus. We have the "Collegians for Life" the most misnamed organization I have ever heard of, who actively trying and shame women into keeping pregnancies.

I'm willing to just go "Screw it; they made their bed, let them sleep in it. The majority wants this, let them have it. I have enough money to drive to Winnipeg or Minneapolis." Then immediately after that thought, I feel bad.

I lived in North Dakota when I was younger, a place called Bottineau. Bottineau was three hours away from Grand Forks, and four hours from Fargo. There are girls who live in Bottineau now, who live in Minot, live in Willow City: all of these communities that have no health center. Some of them may become sexually active; some of them may get raped, and for whatever reason are going to need an abortion. If I do nothing, and everyone chooses to do nothing, I'm condemning her to here. I am condemning her to nine months of forced labor, I am condemning her to be ostracized in her community, and I'm condemning her to a harder life because what her parents did. I am visiting the sins of the parent upon her.

I value self-autonomy: this is MY body. Mine. It cannot* be bought, it cannot be sold, it cannot be infringed upon. I cannot be compelled to give up my organs, my bone marrow, my blood to save a dying person. I cannot be compelled to have sex with someone against my will, and I cannot be compelled to not have sex with someone (with the option that they are willing as well). Similarly, I cannot be compelled, against my will, to nurture a fetus into a baby. I cannot be forced to give MY uterus, MY blood, MY nutrients, MY health for another: this is a choice I have to make for myself. I can't make it for someone else; I can't make it for another woman: and someone else can't make it for me.

Sex is not illegal, and nor is it immoral. Since it is neither illegal nor immoral, it is makes no sense whatsoever to punish women for having it. And make no mistake, unwanted pregnancy is a punishment: it easily falls under the cruel and unusual definition.

Before I get a troll in here that goes "you're trying to live without consequences", let me say this: not having punishment does not mean that I'm trying to shirk the logical consequences of my action. In valuing self-autonomy, I mean that no one can force me to give up my body BUT I should be aware of my actions. If I eat cheeseburgers every day, I have to accept the consequences of having poor health. HOWEVER: this does not mean that the government has the right to deny me health care on the basis that it was my choice to eat non-nutritious food. If I have sex, I fully accept that I may get an STD or get pregnancy, as a consequence of sex. But, that does not mean that I should be denied medical treatment of either problem: pregnancy is a medical condition that may be treated easily through abortion.

What gives anybody the right to demand that a woman, to demand that I, give up my health and autonomy for another?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Why I am (Still) a Feminist

Seeing as this is my very first post, and I claim to be a feminist, I suppose that I need to my "feminist manifesto" as it were. Here goes:

Upon learning that I am a feminist, many people have demanded to know why, in this society, I still posses that antiquated mind-set. "What are you whining about, women already have the right to vote, and it's illegal to discriminate against them in the workplace; women have already received all the recognition they need. At this point, you aren't really trying to be equal; you are trying to be more than men."

This "criticism", and the mindset it stems from, represents exactly why I am still a feminist.

First, I would like to clarify what feminism means. The bumper sticker definition and one that very succinctly outlines it is: "The radical belief that women are people".

I think feminism is the belief that women are moral agents, and do not deserve to have their rights, freedoms, and mobility restricted due to arbitrary legal and social norms. Feminism seeks an androgynous society: one where people arenaple aren't forced into gendered roles, and where one's skills and passions determine what one becomes and accomplishes, where our difference as humans are embappreciatedprieciated not a society where one's fate is determined by one's genitalia.

This society that we all currently live in is not what it could and should be: one free of sexism and prejudice. Women and men are still not considered equal. If women were equals in society, 9000 women wouldn't be subject to domestic abuse each year. One in four women wouldn't be raped, or have rape attempted, in their life time, and the question "How short was her skirt?" would never be asked in a rape case. Whether or not a woman was a Christian virgin or the most sexual active being in the universe would make absolutely no difference in their relative value. Women would have access to health care with derision, including reproductive health care. Women wouldn't be earning 75 cents for every dollar that a male makes, women wouldn't have to choose between being having a career and being a mother, and women wouldn't be derided for choosing one over the other. If men and women were truly equal, and considered truly deserving, Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, Roe vs. Wade, and Griswold vs. Connecticut would not be under constant attack. Women who choose to go into the military would not be raped, sexually assaulted and harassed at military academies by their fellow cadets, and their complaints of this behavior would not be met with derision and punishment (of the victim) from the leaders. If women were equal to men, "pussy" "twat" and "girly" would not be synonymous with weakness and cowardice, and "manly" and "he has balls" would not be synonymous with strength and bravery.

That is why I am a feminist: because we aren't equal yet, and I cannot advocate for my own oppression and the oppression of others. I am a feminist because sexism effects everyone's life in very real ways. Society needs feminism to advocate for equal treatment of women. It is not whining to say that we are not an equal society, and we should be. Women "need" full equality, anything less is a travesty of human rights and justice.